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What is CaaS?
For global brands that need to deploy content dynamically to fragmented audiences across many different touchpoints, emerging Content as a Service (CaaS) solutions are fast becoming the go-to technology.
These next-generation content management systems (CMS) simplify publishing by decoupling content assets — including words, images, graphics, and videos — from the code that determines how they appear on websites, mobile apps, social media, and other channels. By separating back-end content from front-end presentation, CaaS solutions allow marketers and developers to each focus on what they do best at the same time, accelerating time-to-market and increasing flexibility.
This article covers trends shaping this new class of cloud-based services, common traits of industry-leading solutions, and the business benefits of a successful rollout.
Trends driving CaaS solutions
As our world becomes increasingly digital, companies engaged in content marketing have more channels than ever to serve, and their customers expect meaningful interactions at every turn. The personalized experience you deliver on the web must also carry over to mobile, social, voice, chatbots, and storefronts — plus ever-emerging channels.
This creates an insatiable need for content that is both targeted and reusable across communication channels. To meet the demand, editorial teams need a shared content hub through which to model, plan, collaborate, and manage content across the entire lifecycle. Developers need maximum flexibility to design front-end experiences that use content in creative ways. Both teams face mounting pressure to decrease time-to-market for each new customer experience.
Traditional CMS platforms built for website content management do not meet the demands of omnichannel marketing. In these systems, content and presentation are treated as one, and it’s not possible, without technical workarounds, to push the same information to a different channel. However, mobile apps, social media, and third-party channels – as just some examples – all consume content differently than a standard web template. As a result, companies are left with limited options:
- Recreate the same content assets for every channel (inefficient and expensive)
- Limit the number of channels they serve (unrealistic)
- Develop plugins or add-ons (temporary at best)
The Content as a Service solution, which is essentially a headless CMS deployed on the cloud, solves this problem through a simple innovation: separation of content and code. Following the cloud-based model of other SaaS solutions, CaaS offerings provide organizations with the flexibility and agility they need to execute on fast-changing opportunities and priorities.
How Content as a Service works
In the Content as a Service model, the CMS handles content assets independently of delivery channels. Authors upload structured content assets — such as copy blocks, images, graphics, videos, or animations — to a shared repository; developers use an API to call specific assets from the repository into the presentation layer of a website, mobile app, or other touchpoint. The resulting solution is truly headless and highly scalable.
Industry-leading CaaS solutions consist of two main parts and share these characteristics:
- Shared repository with digital assets available in the cloud:
- Modular content organized according to a highly structured taxonomy, so it can be reused infinitely
- Single home for all digital assets with a fully configurable interface for marketers
- Support for content planning, collaborative workflows, and complete lifecycle management
- Full digital asset management (DAM) capabilities
- Delivery platform to distribute omnichannel content:
- Developer access to content assets via high-performing APIs
- Flexibility in choice of front-end and content delivery framework
- Fastest possible speed for end users
Older CMS technologies modified with add-ons and plugins may not provide the flexibility and agility that marketers and developers require today. By contrast, the ideal CaaS offering makes content available in the cloud using a distributed data delivery platform. Applications then should be able to access content directly at the distribution edge, without requiring any connectors.
Our advice: When evaluating any Content as a Service solution, always make sure it meets these best-practice standards:
• Connected through the ability to integrate third-party martech systems
• Simple with a modern, elegant interface that controls the complexity of the underlying technology while tailoring the user experience to specific needs
• Agile by accelerating time-to-market, reducing the costs to design, build, deploy, and support the CMS platform, and with seamless upgrades that allow customers to consistently benefit from improved ease-of-use and usability
• Flexible by maintaining the extensibility that allows developers to make changes when needed based on shifting market dynamics
• Intelligent with fully integrated AI and ML technologies delivered as a service throughout the platform to help users predict behavior, act on data, and serve up the right content in real-time
Benefits of the Content as a Service approach
Businesses that move to the Content as a Service model unleash creativity and flexibility to shape digital experiences in new ways. Developers can choose the best design for the medium without compromise, while marketers can maintain quality and relevance of their content.
The process of headless content management also creates new efficiencies. When marketing content is provided as a service, teams can work on multiple projects in parallel. The business in turn gets consistency in its messaging and faster time-to-market for new campaigns.
Over time, companies that rely on CaaS increase the ROI of their content investments by reusing modular assets across many channels. Best of all, the business can see how different assets perform in various channels and use this insight to consistently improve customer experiences.
Use cases for CaaS
Digital transformation: When you’re strategizing for a digital transformation initiative, it’s a natural time to look at the digital ecosystem as a whole and ask whether a streamlined process would benefit the project, and the business.
Seasonal campaign: Need to move fast to get a timely message to a specific audience? CaaS means you don’t need to rely on a time-intensive build-out to support the project.
Emerging channels: Sometimes you just want to test the waters with a new channel without committing to a costly IT investment. CaaS helps you launch and get feedback from the market as quickly as possible.
Partner marketing: When a third party invites you to contribute content to its platform, how do you share your message and keep it up-to-date? Send your partner to the cloud and provide your content as-a-service.
We’re rolling out our first CaaS solution this year. You can learn about the new Sitecore Experience Edge CaaS solution here.